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Getting the Most From Your Spa Software

By: Ron Mataya
Posted: October 26, 2009, from the November 2009 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
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Today’s spas are complex businesses with management challenges that require tracking and balancing schedules, inventories, service facilities and various team members, not to mention creating, executing and evaluating marketing initiatives. It is hard to imagine a spa succeeding in today’s fast-paced world without some kind of computer assistance to automate these critical, yet time-consuming tasks. However, getting the most from spa management software does not necessarily mean using the most features and functions; instead, it means getting everything you want from the ones that are used.

Scheduling

Computerized scheduling goes far beyond the old pencil-and-paper method, allowing for complicated booking that takes into account staff availability, room openings, time needed for services, overlapping treatments, packages and just about every time-sensitive detail imaginable, customized to a specific business. Scheduling by computer can allow the ability to provide highly personalized client care, as well. Client data and history modules can track services received, personal preferences, special instructions and esthetician’s notes, among other details, in order to fully prepare for the needs of each returning client.

Sharon Oshita, spa manager of Spa Vitale at Hotel Vitale in San Francisco, believes her computerized scheduling saves time, provides cost-efficiency and allows her to offer improved personalized service. “The software can tell me about the clients coming in, what services they’re having or if there’s a special request for a treatment or therapist, just by the color of the appointment blocked out on the schedule. The program automatically prevents us from booking things if we don’t have the resources. It will tell us we don’t have the space, a room or a person available,” she says.

“It also logs when appointments are moved and notes who moved them, so if a client questions an appointment or comes in and says she has an appointment when she doesn’t, we can look at the schedule and have an explanation as to what happened, which allows us to straighten out any problems before they become issues. We set up past notes that are helpful when we have repeat clients because as soon as we bring up their names, a pop-up will tell us if they have any special requests, allergies or other instructions,” Oshita continues. “We get to know our clients better that way and can be more personable with them because we can talk about what they need. People really appreciate that.”

Marketing options

Most spa software programs have far more marketing tools and ways to apply them than will probably ever be used, but with the ability to automate tasks that used to be completed by hand or to market more frequently to more specifically targeted client groups, an increase in retention, income and visibility for the business can take place.